Four web-based, home-grown ventures given the Innovation Corps award

In a bid to increase collaboration with the Karnataka government, Internet giant Google Inc. announced the launch of a joint initiative with the Karnataka State Innovation Council (KSInC). Titled Innovation Corps, the initiative currently focusses on identifying and encouraging home-grown innovation, particularly those that have leveraged information technology (IT).

At the announcement of the first Innovation Corps awards, the council launched a 15-page report, Innovation Karnataka, which recommends a slew of initiatives to nurture innovation in the State.

It also details several examples of tech-enabled innovation that have already made their mark; these include e-commerce ventures such as Flipkart and RedBus and online education initiative such as Educate.

The report, based on inputs from ‘innovators’ in the State, recommends that the government support entrepreneurs doing business online, nurture a “transparent and predictable regulatory environment” for online platforms and digital content creators, and improve internet access and IT infrastructure in the State and upskill the young talented workforce.

A downturn

The report notes that Karnataka, which ranks 10th among Indian States in human development index, has seen a decrease in profitability in the IT/ITeS business, particularly in the face of increasing overseas competition. As part of the joint initiative to encourage innovators, Google Inc. and the Karnataka State Innovation Council gave away awards to State-based innovations bus ticketing service RedBus, online Kannada portal Kanaja, online health portal mDhil and the citizen services delivery scheme Sakala.

The awards were evenly distributed between public or State-run services and private entrepreneurial ventures that have made a social impact. Speaking at the interactive session here, Karnataka State Innovation Council chairperson H.P. Khincha said: “In these challenging times, Karnataka must stay ahead of the curve and this can be done by fuelling innovation. We must amplify the impact of web-driven innovation ventures.”

‘Changed the image’

Shalini Rajneesh, Director, Sakala, said that the scheme had managed to “change the brand image of the State government”. She told The Hindu that the scheme would launch its online portal on April 2, making all 265 services accessible through the website.

Rajagopalan of the Kanaja portal said that the challenge today was to reach out to the large Kannada-knowing population on the web. “For this we need some disruptive tech: we are thinking of a voice-based portal where browsing can happen through voice. This will be a game changer.”

Innovation all around

Lalitesh Katragadda, country head, India Product, Google India, said that innovation is all around in India. “Walk through Chickpet or Commercial Street, and you see all sorts of innovation. They may not be scalable but they’re all born out of innovative ideas. This initiative is to pick innovation that uses the extraordinary potential of the internet.”